I enjoyed Noah Glass’ guest post on pivoting his startup from B2C GoMobo.com to B2B OLO. His story has a ton of good lessons about how to successfully make the transition, but it’s the psychology of leaving the consumer market that interests me:
“What followed was a soul-searching period in my life as a young
entrepreneur. I knew that the numbers were not on my side, but did I
really want to spend my time working on a non-consumer startup? That wasn’t why I’d gotten into entrepreneurship in the first place.
I wanted to create consumer-facing products to make consumers’ lives
better. I didn’t want to have to compromise with other companies’ brand
guidelines and other exogenous limitations. I shuddered to imagine my
company being categorized as just another supplier/vendor/service
I didn’t have many startup entrepreneurs to turn to and ask for advice
and perspective. Essentially every startup I knew was in the B2C space
and found B2B “boring” and/or “not worth the effort.”
Glass’ words are telling–he didn’t want to be categorized as a supplier or vendor. B2B was boring.
The real reason it’s hard for entrepreneurs to say goodbye to B2C is that it hurts their ego. And that’s a pain they need to get past, because startups exist to create value, not aggrandize their founders.
It’s fun to run a consumer internet startup. You can tell cool stories at parties, and you’re always running into happy users who treat you like a rock star. And that’s fine if you’re bootstrapped. But if you took money from investors, you have an obligation to try to deliver a good return on their investment.
If not, you’d better be prepared to tell them, “We should probably change our business model, but doing so would crimp my social life and my sense of self worth, so we’re just going to blunder along and keep wasting your money.”
Doesn’t sound very good, does it? So don’t allow it to happen. Decide on strategy based on what’s good for the company, not what’s good for your ego.